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Lester Bangs (1948 - 1982)

Lifespan: 1948 - 1982

Related: Creem magazine - American literature - music journalist

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung (1988) - Lester Bangs
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"Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" was a 1971 essay by Lester Bangs, later collected in a book of the same name. The essay, which talks about what would usually today be called garage rock, contains the phrase, "...punk bands started cropping up who were writing their own songs but taking the Yardbirds' sound."

This is believed one of the first uses of the word "punk" to refer to a type of rock music. A large section of the essay is concerned with the imagined long career of the garage band The Count Five, after their hit "Psychotic Reaction". [Sept 2006]

Biography

Lester Bangs (born Leslie Conway Bangs, December 14, 1948ĖApril 30, 1982) was an American music journalist, author and musician. A very influential, if not founding, voice in rock music criticism, Bangs died in New York City, overdosing after treating a cold with Darvon and Valium. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lester_Bangs [Jun 2005]

1981

For the 1981 Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics' Poll, Lester Bangs turned in a blank ballot, protesting the worthless state of rock and roll. "New Wave has terminated in thudding hollow Xeroxes of poses that aren't even annoying anymore," he wrote. "Rap is nothing, or not enough. Jazz does not exist as a musical form with anything new to say. And the rest of rock is recycling various formulae forever. I don't know what I'm going to write about - music is the only thing in the world I really care about - but I simply cannot pretend to find anything compelling in the choice between pap and mud."

The end

On 29 April 1982 his musician friend Nancy Stillman discovered Bangs dead in his apartment. On his record deck was the Human Leagueís Dare, LP hit of that winter, just bought, and actually still revolving, the needle crackling in the run-out groove. Just think ó for a moment ó of Bangsís own ambivalent hate-shaped fascination with the synthetic in its myriad forms; just relish this bandname, this LP title, this rich (daft, hideous, unlikely) coincidence. -- Mark Sinker in http://web.pitas.com/tashpile

On black music

Oh yeah of course, RockíníRoll comes out of a tradition of black American music, the blues and soul music. I mean in a way as much as I disliked most disco, one thing I do find distressing in the new wave scene is the racism that just absolutely refuses to recognise any black music besides (ha ha) Reggae, you know cause thatís hip. I mean Iíve had parties in this very apartment where Iíve put on an Otis Redding or Aretha Franklin record cut in 1967, and the people from the CBGB scene would say ďOh Lester! why are you playing that nigger disco stuff for? Why donít you just get it off. ĒTheyíre just totally ignorant, donít wanna be any other way and really are not open to other forms of music. Of course RockíníRoll is part of a whole tradition of American music that goes back. Really what I think it is the tradition of miscegenation. Itís that tradition of black and white, getting together to create this thing that reached itís ultimate fruition with beginning with Elvis. Well it carried on when Mick Jagger came out and sang all these Muddy Waters blues songs. And I guess it even carries on today when The Clash do ĎPolice and Thievesí a Reggae song originally done by Junior Marvin I think? And itís a conditional tradition of miscegenation of black and white music coming together to form something new. . That is really vital and healthy and I think when that element goes out of it. When it just becomes all white, then it loses something for me. I mean I really think that, cause itís funny cause it doesnít work the other round. Music can be all black, and I still enjoy listening to it but when itís all white if thereís none of the blues influence I think it really loses something it loses the thing that fused it, that made it vital in the first place. --Sourced via from http://www.thecreepshow.net/mag/lester.htm Part one of this interview appeared in the fanzine Loser Friendly (Vol 2 1995)* The interview was conducted on the 13th of May 1980 a year and a half before Bangs' death in 1982.

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung (1988) - Lester Bangs

Vintage presents the paperback edition of the wild and brilliant writings of Lester Bangs--the most outrageous and popular rock critic of the 1970s--edited and with an introduction by the reigning dean of rock critics, Greil Marcus. Advertising in Rolling Stone and other major publications.

"Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung" was a 1971 essay by Lester Bangs, later collected in a book of the same name (ISBN 0679720456). The essay, which talks about what would usually today be called garage rock, contains the phrase, "...punk bands started cropping up who were writing their own songs but taking the Yardbirds' sound."

This is believed one of the first uses of the word "punk" to refer to a type of rock music. A large section of the essay is concerned with the imagined long career of the garage band The Count Five, after their hit "Psychotic Reaction", In fact, the band split after one album, and their other records are entirely a product of Bangs' imagination. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychotic_Reactions_and_Carburetor_Dung [Jun 2005]

Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic - Jim Derogatis

  • Let It Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic - Jim Derogatis [Amazon.com]
    Let It Blurt is the raucous and righteous biography of Lester Bangs (1949-82)--the gonzo journalist, gutter poet, and romantic visionary of rock criticism. No writer on rock 'n' roll ever lived harder or wrote better--more passionately, more compellingly, more penetratingly. He lived the rock 'n' roll lifestyle, guzzling booze and Romilar like water, matching its energy in prose that erupted from the pages of Rolling Stone, Creem, and The Village Voice. Bangs agitated in the seventies for sounds that were harsher, louder, more electric, and more alive, in the course of which he charted and defined the aesthetics of heavy metal and punk. He was treated as a peer by such brash visionaries as Lou Reed, Patti Smith, Richard Hell, Captain Beefheart, The Clash, Debbie Harry, and other luminaries.

    [...]From 225 interview contributions (from friends, rivals, enemies, exes and passing pundits), DeRogatis boils out only endless glum details of lovelife, alco-binges, body odour. As a book about a writer, Let It Blurt sucks. Glibly dividing the rockwrite world into Chinstrokers and Noiseboys (not to say thinkers and thugs)[...] Mark Sinker in http://web.pitas.com/tashpile/

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